Alberto Burri ENG
Alberto Burri’s artistic career lasted for exactly fifty years, from 1945, the year of his first experiments till 1995, the year of his death. His initial training as a figurative painter was short and had already ended by 1947.
His abstract work can be divided into two categories: the first is surfaces, irregular and uneven, sometimes steep, underlining life in the various materials (sacks, wood, metals and plastic) with their rough surfaces: the second is more even and smooth, interwoven with colour, that can assume an exclusive role, the pattern of materials: only now is their value recognised for their vibrant tones and not just for the drama of their shape, these are shown more uniform, even if rough or porous. During the seventies a change is distinguishable in the passage from “clefts” to “cellotex”. What does not change is the stillness and wideness of the picture, that sense of space that is always tense and compact. Initially in more tormented forms, after they are smoother and more relaxed, it always expresses the same plastic vigour. The apparition of “sacks” at the start of the fifties triggered an enormous scandal. It was an absolute and disturbing novelty, the following series generated the same disturbance, from wood to plastic, even if the more intuitive press didn’t miss out underlining its’ beauty. As a matter of fact, none of the other pictorial researches of the fifties, in Europe and in the rest of the world, presented more qualitative capacity. Nor are they comparable to Burri’s works for radical linguistic novelty, also considering his forerunning of the American artists that will form New Dada and Pop Art movements. Artists which were as a matter of fact were influenced and stimulated by Burri, or anticipated. Examples? In a 1949 pattern of the American flag, which will be so important to Jasper Johns, will already be present. The “Hunched” paintings, meaning that the canvas is pushed forwards by a simple metal armour (sometimes it’s a tree branch) stuck in the frame, they anticipate the research in the “shaped canvas”, meaning pictures conceived as three dimensional structures, of canvas with an internal armour.
From "Percorso di Burri" by Maurizio Calvesi